How Do You Respond to Affliction? Psalm 119

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How do you feel about affliction? What is your go-to response? I admit my first reaction is usually to avoid it and run from it at all costs. I like ease and comfort. The verses we journaled last week from Psalm 119:65-80 are rich lessons for us in our approach to and attitude toward affliction.

Did you notice that this stanza begins with a note of gratitude?

You have dealt well with your servant, O Lord, according to your word. —Psalm 119:65

Think of all the ways God has dealt well with us. He loves us, He chose us, He called us, He drew us to Himself. He rescued us, He declared us righteous, He forgave us, He put His Spirit with us, He adopted us into His family. He makes us kings and priests and co-workers with Him, and He rewards all our work for Him.

Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep Your word. —Psalm 119:67

It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn Your statutes. —Psalm 119:71

What would prompt the psalmist to be grateful for affliction?

Affliction brings about a state of humility. In the original language, the meaning of the word afflicted is to humble, to be bowed down.

In verse 71 he declares his affliction was good. In verses 66 and 71 we see the psalmist ask for the Lord to teach him, to give him good judgment, knowledge, and understanding. But it goes beyond a desire for knowledge. A clue is found in the letter of the Hebrew alphabet used in this stanza. (Remember Psalm 119 us an acrostic with each stanza using a different letter of the Hebrew alphabet and repeating it eight times within the stanza as the first word of each sentence.)

This is the Teth stanza. Teth is the first letter of the Hebrew word ‘good’ (tov). It is all about the goodness of God!

You are good and do good; teach me your statutes. —Psalm 119:68

The psalmist declares the goodness of God, who He is and what He does. He is good! Even in allowing affliction, He is good.

I know, O Lord, that your rules are righteous, and that in faithfulness you have afflicted me. —Psalm 119:75

We’ve seen several synonyms for the Word of God used throughout this Psalm. The use of the word statutes in verse 71 is interesting and insightful for us. Statutes in the original language is a noun derived from the root word meaning engrave or inscribe. “…the idea is of the written word of God and the authority of His written word.

In our affliction, the Lord engraves His Word upon our hearts and lives. He transforms the way we believe, think and act by removing our natural tendencies for self and sin, and replacing it with the truths of His words and ways. When we come to a place of humility, willing to allow the Lord to align our hearts with His, we will experience discomfort and even affliction, but we will also find the joy and delight the psalmist experienced and expressed in these verses.

We can approach affliction in our lives in one of two ways. We can battle against our circumstances, fighting to find our way back to a life of ease and comfort. Or we can seek the Lord with gratitude, humbling ourselves before Him and accepting His hand at work in our lives to make us more like Jesus. Many times when I’m battling that instinct to flee instead of submitting to spiritual heart surgery, it’s helpful to record all the ways to Lord has been good to me. Gratitude shifts our gaze from ourselves and our circumstance to the Lord and His goodness!

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. —James 1:12

For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. —Hebrews 12:10-11

Remember He is good! Even in the midst of affliction the Lord does not leave us alone. Rehearse before the Lord what we read in verses 76-77: Let Your steadfast love and kindness comfort me, and let me live by Your mercies.

How soft is your heart toward God and His Word in the midst of affliction?
Is it like that of the psalmist—grateful, humble and repentant? May our heart’s cry and prayer be: “here’s my heart Lord, transform me according to Your Word…”

“Our prayers are according to the mind of God when they are according to the word of God.” —Charles Spurgeon

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. —Hebrews 4:12-13

I’ll leave you with a song by Lauren Dangle that so beautifully expresses the heart of this section of Psalm 119. When faced with affliction, may your heart’s cry be, You ARE good and DO good. O Lord, according to Your Word!

Rejoicing in Him!

Journaling Assignment: Read and journal Psalm 119:81-88 (Kaph) and Psalm 119: 89-96 (Lamedh).

 

 

©2017 Susan Cady, susancady.com

Susan Cady

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